A recent Productivity Commission study found that a new National Disability Agreement between Australian governments is needed to ensure the wellbeing of people with disability, and their families and carers.
In 2008, the Australian and State and Territory Governments agreed on a new framework for federal financial relations, to provide a foundation for collaboration on policy and service delivery, and to facilitate the implementation of reforms in areas of national importance. The centrepiece of this arrangement was the establishment of six National Agreements covering disability, education, health, housing, Indigenous reform, and skills and workforce development.
The Australian Government has asked the Productivity Commission to review nationally significant sector-wide agreements, beginning with the National Disability Agreement (NDA). The Commission was asked to consider the relevance of the agreement in the context of contemporary policy settings and whether it needs updating in light of these.
The NDA is a high-level agreement between the Australian and State and Territory Governments that commenced in 2009. Its purpose is threefold: to promote cooperation (by stating the objective of disability policy, the outcomes and outputs to be achieved, and high-level reforms and policy directions); enhance accountability (through a performance reporting framework); and clarify roles and responsibilities of governments in order to improve outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers.
The report notes that: The current agreement no longer serves its purpose, has a weak influence on policy, and its performance targets show no progress in improving the wellbeing of people with disability. A new, reinvigorated NDA that improves the lives of all people with disability is needed, and should be agreed by the start of 2020.
And further: The Commission has proposed a new architecture for disability policy in Australia to unify the various agreements, strategies and policies relating to disability. Under this revised architecture, a new NDA would provide the overarching agreement, with the NDS and NDIS forming elements within that.